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Posts tagged: WAC

Vandals fall short of NCAA bid

Idaho's late-season mojo was no match for New Mexico State's size and athleticism.

The Vandals' best conference tournament showing in more than two decades ended one win shy of an NCAA tournament bid on Saturday when they fell quietly to New Mexico State, 77-55, in the WAC championship game in Las Vegas. Idaho shot just 38 percent and was outrebounded 38-21 by the much bigger and more physical Aggies.

After winning four straight and six of seven, Idaho's season ended at 16-18. This was its first conference title game since 1993. UI was seeking the school's first NCAA tournament bid in 24 years.

NMSU, which has won three straight WAC tournament crowns, controlled the paint with center 7-foot-5, 355-pound center Sim Bhullar and athletic big man Tshilidzi Nephawe. Bhullar, the tournament MVP, had 14 points and nine rebounds while Nephawe went for 12 and 7.

The Vandals knew they couldn't match up with NMSU's monstrous front line. But when the shots stopped falling after going up 8-3, Idaho was in trouble. The Aggies unleashed a 15-3 run and led by double digits most of the rest of the way.

Senior Stephen Madison led the Vandals with 17 points in his final game at Idaho, and point guard Mike Scott had 14 points. Shooting guard Connor Hill, who helped UI get on a late-season roll, was 0-for-5 from the 3-point line and finished with six points.

Idaho men upend Utah Valley to reach WAC title game

Suddenly, everything is coming together for the Idaho men's basketball team. One more win, and it will find itself in the NCAA tournament for the first time in 24 years.

The fifth-seeded Vandals showed poise in crunch time to knock off No. 1 seed Utah Valley 74-69 in the WAC semifinals in Las Vegas. Their fourth straight win — and sixth in seven games — put them in their first conference championship game since 1993.

UI last went to the NCAA tournament in 1990.

Both the Idaho men and women will play in the WAC title game on Saturday. The Vandal men will face the winner of the New Mexico State-Cal State Bakersfield game at 7 p.m. on ESPNU.

Senior Stephen Madison was superb again for the Vandals (16-17). He scored 25 points and grabbed five rebounds, after his 26-point, 17-rebound performance on Thursday against UMKC. Mike Scott carried the Vandals in the first half and finished with 14 points, while redshirt freshman Ty Egbert came up with a team-high seven rebounds and hit 2 of 4 free throws late.

Vandals, Verlin get elusive WAC tournament win

Idaho's ineptitude in the WAC tournament? It's history. Senior Stephen Madison put in a masterful performance and his teammates stepped up in the final minutes as the Vandals vanquished the University of Missouri-Kansas City, 73-70, in the quarterfinals of the WAC tourney in Las Vegas.

This was Don Verlin's first win in the WAC tournament after going 0-5 to start his tenure at Idaho. And it was only Idaho's second win in this event since joining the WAC before the 2005-2006 season. It came at the right moment, too — the Vandals will depart for the Big Sky Conference this summer.

“It feels awfully good, and Stephen and I enjoyed a special moment because we hadn’t gotten one yet,” Verlin said.

Fifth-seeded Idaho (15-17) moves on to the semifinal tomorrow night, when it will face No. 1 seed Utah Valley at 6 p.m. The Vandals lost both regular-season matchups against UVU, but the games were decided by a total of six points.

Keep reading for more.

Can the Idaho men break through?

Since joining the WAC, the Idaho men's basketball team has won one conference tournament game, and that was an opening round affair in 2007. The Vandals are 1-7 in the event all-time and 0-5 under Don Verlin. But Idaho's postseason struggles go back even further: Since 1997, the program is 2-14 in conference tournaments as members of the WAC and Big West. That's right — 1-7 in the WAC, 1-7 in the Big West.

The Vandals will try to break through this afternoon against UMKC when the quarterfinals of the WAC tourney get under way in Las Vegas. The topic of our preview for this morning's paper was Idaho's suddenly aggressive transition game. We've posted a longer version of the story below, as well as a few quotes from coaches and players.

Postseason beckons for UI men, women

The WAC men's and women's basketball tournaments will again be held at one site — Orleans Arena in Las Vegas — over the next four days. The top-seeded Idaho women (22-8) get things started Wednesday at noon with a quarterfinal matchup with Chicago State. The Vandals are looking to get back to the NCAA tournament for the second straight year, but the situation is different this time. We wrote about this in our preview.

The Idaho men take on UMKC on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. The Vandals are just 1-7 in the WAC tournament since joining the conference in 2005-06, and Don Verlin is 0-5. We'll have more on this tomorrow. Idaho star Stephen Madison was named to the US Basketball Writers Assocaition's All-District VIII team on Tuesday, two days after being named a first-team all-WAC player. Meanwhile, guard Connor Hill was selected as the WAC player of the week on Monday — the seventh such honor for a Vandal this year.

Idaho completes road sweep at UMKC

The Idaho basketball team entered the week with three road wins all year. In the span of three days, it pocketed two victories away from Moscow — and the latest was arguably the Vandals' most impressive road victory of the season.

Idaho thundered back from a late 10-point deficit to dispatch the University of Missouri-Kansas City, 87-80, in Kansas City. Senior Stephen Madison poured in 26 points and Connor Hill had 24 for the rejuvenated Vandals (14-17, 7-9), who finished the regular season by snatching their fourth win in five games.

“We’re playing our best basketball,” sixth-year coach Don Verlin said. “If this team will make a bigger commitment to defense and rebounding, we’ll have a chance to win the WAC tournament.”

The fifth-seeded Vandals will play fourth-seeded UMKC again in the quarterfinals on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. in Las Vegas. Idaho is still searching for its first WAC tourney win with Verlin at the helm. Its only victory at the WAC tournament came in a play-in game in 2007.

Click below for more.

Stat-stuffing year for Idaho’s Madison

Idaho's Stephen Madison has improved in each of his four years in Moscow. That seems like a fair summary of a fine career for the 6-foot-6 small forward out of Jefferson High in Portland, and it's something that coach Don Verlin appreciates. “I couldn't be happier with his development in the program,” Verlin said last week.

Madison averaged 3.7 points per game as a freshman in 2010-11. The next year he bumped up his average to 12.1 ppg. Last year, he increased his scoring to 14.1 ppg, and as a senior he's averaging 17.5 points — in addition to career-bests in almost every other statistical category.

He came into the week as the only player in the nation to lead his team in five areas – points (17.5 per game), rebounds (7.8), assists (2.4), steals (0.8) and blocks (0.6). But is that a good thing for the Vandals, who are languishing at 8-13 and 2-5 in the WAC?

We explore below.

Idaho going back to Sun Belt in football

UPDATED

After the Idaho State Board of Education approved the University of Idaho's request to seek membership in the Sun Belt Conference, athletic director Rob Spear confirmed via Twitter that UI will join its old conference in football only in 2014. Spear tweeted: “I want to the thank our State Board of Education and Regent of the UI for approving football membership in the Sun Belt.”

We've got our full story below and a few additional notes.

Report: Idaho takes steps to join Sun Belt in football

The University of Idaho this week will seek permission from the State Board of Education to join the Sun Belt Conference as a football-only member in 2014, the Idaho Statesman reported Monday. UI athletic director Rob Spear told the Statesman that the apparent invitation from the Sun Belt has brought a “sense of relief.” Idaho left the Sun Belt in 2005 after four years to join the WAC, which has disintegrated with its core membership leaving for more stable conferences.

Spear told The Spokesman-Review that Idaho will likely meet with the State Board on Wednesday. The Vandals will operate as an FBS independent this fall, and they had already scheduled games as an independent for 2014.

ESPN.com reported Monday the Sun Belt will add Appalachian State and Georgia Southern in 2015. Both schools are currently in the FCS. In the story, Sun Belt comissioner Karl Benson, who brought Idaho to the WAC in 2005, said Idaho and New Mexico State were being considered by his new conference.

Idaho’s season ends with loss to NMSU

The Vandals had come back twice this season versus New Mexico State to set up wild finishes. But they couldn't make the same late-game charge this afternoon in the quarterfinals of the WAC tournament. Sixth-seeded UI fell 65-49 to finish the year 12-18.

In the final game of his accomplished career, Kyle Barone scored 19 points, but he had only five rebounds — half his average during WAC play — against the big frontline of the Aggies. Connor Hill was the only Vandal to reach double-digit points, with 14 on 5-of-11 shooting. UI made just 3 of 19 3-pointers (16 percent) after canning 13 last week against Seattle U. 

With another quarterfinal loss, Idaho moved to 0-5 in the WAC tourney under Don Verlin. NMSU (22-10) advanced to play No. 7 seed Texas State, which shocked second-seeded Denver 72-68.

Christian Caple was at the game and filed this story.

Vandal men picked fifth, six in WAC

The Idaho men’s basketball team was picked fifth by the media and sixth by the league’s coaches in the Western Athletic Conference preseason polls, which were released Wednesday morning. “The preseason polls are what they are,” Idaho  coach Don Verlin said. “It’s about where you finish at the end of the year and that’s what I’ll tell my basketball team. Those things don’t really mean anything until the end of the season.”

Center Kyle Barone was a first-team all-WAC selection. Barone returned to practice this week, but is still serving an indefinite suspension for an offseason violation of team rules.

Vandals to unveil 2013 football schedule

Idaho athletic director Rob Spear will announce all but one game of the Vandals' 2013 schedule this afternoon in a conference call with reporters, the Idaho Statesman reported this morning. Spear is also expected to announce the Vandals will move to the Big Sky Conference in all sports besides football in 2014-15.

Spear said last week that he had nailed down 11 of 12 games for 2013. He told Brian Murphy of the Statesman that five of the 11 will be home games.

The Vandals will keep their Olympic sports in the WAC in 2013-14, according to the Statesman.

WAC adds two schools; Idaho AD comments

The Western Athletic Conference, shifting its focus away from football for at least the next year, will add Utah Valley University and CSU Bakersfield in July 2013. With the two additions, the WAC will have six schools in 2013-14 — that is, if Idaho doesn't bolt to the Big Sky for all non-football sports.

Asked to comment on the WAC's move, Idaho athletic Rob Spear told the S-R: “The announcement does not impact our evaluation.”

We have more below.

Idaho AD: retaining FBS status a priority

With Utah State and San Jose State's move to the Mountain West official — and other WAC schools off to Conference USA and the Sun Belt — Idaho athletic director Rob Spear spoke with reporters for 25 minutes this afternoon. He laid out four options for the Vandals, with an emphasis on retaining FBS status.

Read on for more.

UI remarks on conference changes

It's been a wild past few days for conference realignment. All signs point to the WAC losing Utah State, San Jose State, Louisiana Tech and soon-to-be members Texas State and Texas-San Antonio. That would leave just Idaho and New Mexico State as football-playing members.

In response, UI released a statement this evening in which it said it was “disappointed in the recent changes that are driven not by tradition, academic quality, competitiveness, or the student experience, but by money.” 

Read on for the full statement.

Could WAC get plundered again?

Texas-San Antonio was set to join the WAC this summer. But the Roadrunners now appear headed to the Conference USA in 2013 — along with current WAC member Louisiana Tech. And the WAC's losses might not end there. CBSsports.com reported Saturday morning that Utah State and San Jose State are expected to move to the Mountain West Conference in 2013 as well.

Read on for more on what this means for Idaho and the WAC.

Can UI stick around in WAC tourney?

The Idaho men's basketball team is one of the hottest clubs in the WAC. But can the Vandals summon a breakthrough this afternoon in the conference tournament? If they do, it will be a landmark day for Idaho.

We have more on the Vandals' tourney hopes below.

Pac-12, WAC women’s hoops tournaments start tomorrow

The Washington State and Idaho women's basketball teams are set to begin conference tournament play after wrapping up their regular season schedules last week. Two players from WSU were also honored on Tuesday as the Pac-12 announced its all-conference teams.

More below. 

Verlin on Utah St., Kyle Barone and more

Idaho coach Don Verlin spoke with the media on Tuesday. I've got a summary of his thoughts below. The Vandals, 16-11, have won five straight and finish the regular season with three huge WAC games — all on the road.

Lots more after the jump.

Area women’s basketball roundup

Local NCAA Division I women's basketball teams had a successful Saturday - with the exception of Washington State, which lost at UCLA

We were at Gonzaga today, where the Bulldogs turned up the heat in the second half and beat a defensive San Diego team. John Blanchette wrote this column on the Zag women in the post-Courtney Vandersloot era, Jesse Tinsley told the game story through his photo lens, and here's the link to my game story.

The Eastern Washington women continued their quest for a Big Sky Conference title with a win at Sacramento State and the Idaho women picked up their second Western Athletic Conference win in a late game at San Jose State.

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